Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death in the world, killing 40 million people each year and representing 70 percent of all annual deaths. Eighty percent of NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, straining health care systems, contributing to poverty and posing a major barrier to development. Tobacco use, obesity and risky alcohol consumption are three leading risk factors for the development of NCDs. Ministers of Finance control a powerful tool to reduce the harmful use of these products: tax policy.

This Task Force examines the evidence on excise tax policy for health, including barriers to implementation, and make recommendations on how countries can best leverage fiscal policies to yield improved health outcomes for their citizens with the added benefit of bringing in additional revenue. Smart fiscal policy can save lives and help economies.

In April 2019, the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health released the “Health Taxes to Save Lives” report, calling on all countries to significantly raise their excise taxes on tobacco, alcohol and sugary beverages. An analysis conducted for the Task Force estimated that over 50 million premature deaths could be prevented if countries implemented excise tax increases large enough to raise product prices of tobacco, alcohol and sugary beverages by 50 percent over the next 50 years. The Task Force-commissioned analysis found that the impact of these taxes, projected to yield over US$20 trillion in revenue, would be highest in low- and middle-income countries, where consumption and associated healthcare costs and productivity losses are growing.

After reviewing the evidence, the Task Force concluded that few interventions have the power to save as many lives as raising tobacco, alcohol and sugary beverage taxes. And, while secondary to the health gains, the additional revenue that can be obtained from such tax increases is substantial.


READ the Report: Health Taxes to Save Lives: Employing Effective Excise Taxes on Tobacco, Alcohol, and Sugary Beverages


Supporting Materials:


Members of the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health:

  • Michael R. Bloomberg, Co-Chair
  • Lawrence H. Summers, Co-Chair
  • Masood Ahmed, President, Center for Global Development
  • Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Former Central Bank Governor
  • Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics, Cornell University
  • Helen Clark, Former UNDP Administrator; Former Prime Minister of New Zealand
  • Margaret Chan, Former Director General, WHO
  • Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services, Norway
  • Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance, Indonesia
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Former Minister of Finance, Nigeria
  • Zhu Min, Director, National Institute of Financial Research, Tsinghua University, China
  • Mauricio Cardenas, Minister of Finance, Colombia
  • Minouche Shafik, Director, London School of Economics
  • Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland
  • Tabaré Vázquez, President of Uruguay